Fannaichs traverse

I was in “the north” for the annual trip to Skye, but the weather was good, and I didn’t need to be back home with great urgency, so when the rest of the NPC returned south on Friday, I headed further north, first for an evening (and very quick) ascent of Beinn Alligin and the horns. Then I picked another of my planned Munro projects and headed towards Ullapool. This was to be a long traverse of all the Munros in the main block of the Fannaichs (I’d done A Chailleach and Sgurr Breac off to the west some time earlier in much less clement weather…)

I parked up and slept in the car at the Braemore junction, just above Corrieshalloch gorge, so was off to a decently early start heading 6 km southwards across the moor to the first top, of Meall a’ Chrasgaidh with about 750m of ascent.

Sgurr Breac, A’Chailleach and Fisherfield from Meall a’Chrasgaidh

An Teallach from Meall a’Chrasgaidh

Turning southeast, I lost about 120m before climbing gently to the col, then SSW more steeply on to Sgurr nan Clach Geala. The outlying 923m summit of Sgurr nan Each, while looking as though it may be just a top, was definitely in the tables as a Munro, so visiting it was part of the plan. That’s 260m down, 110m back up to the summit, and as there’s no easy way round, another 260m ascent for the day’s second visit to Sgurr nan Clach Geala. So that’s 12 km and 1300m of ascent with most of the ridge still ahead of me.

Sgurr nan Each from Sgurr nan Clach Geala

Fortunately, the up and down gets a bit less epic for the rest of the day – less than 100m to climb to Carn na Criche and the next col wasn’t a huge drop.

Sgurr nan Clach Geala from Carn na Criche

It is still 200m to climb onto the highest peak of the day, Sgurr Mor, at 1110m from where the ridge to the southeast now looks a relatively easy stroll.

Sgurr nan Clach Geala from Sgurr Mòr

From Sgurr Mòr over Loch an Fhuar Thuill Mhoir to eastern Fannaichs

But wait ! Now there’s another outlying peak to cope with – Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, at 954m, lies a kilometre and a half to the ENE, with another 110m of ascent to reach the top.

Sgurr Mòr from Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich

It’s a great relief to find that the continuing ridge can be regained without a repeat visit to Sgurr Mhor, although even a traverse across its SE slope requires over 100m of reascent from Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich without the snow, but to avoid the big snow patch added yet more ascent, so by the time I’d gained Meall nam Peithirean, the day’s total is up to 1880m ascent over 20 km. There’s a short traverse to the SW of Creachan Rairigidh, which at just over 850m is not even a top, so I gratefully accepted this saving of all of 15m of reascent before heading up another 110m to Meall Gorm.

Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr Mòr over Creachan Rairigidh from Meall Gorm

Beinn Dearg group over shoulder of Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich from Meall Gorm

It’s still not all over, since at 923m, An Coileachan must also be ticked, with another 170m of ascent along the way for a grand total of 2160m of uphill. 25km of walking puts one a long way from the starting point and, of more immediate concern, a long way from the road, another 10km of mostly pathless terrain. Fortunately, I found it remarkably easy to hitch a lift along the road back to the starting point – 8km of tarmac really would have been purgatory at this point !